Dentists, Hygienists, and neck pain.
Dentists and Hygienists spend their careers stooped over patients, focusing on tiny objects in their mouths while maneuvering and manipulating equipment. Their intensity and focus are necessary to doing a great job, with the least amount of pain, but they are sacrificing their bodies, for your mouths.
Neck pain is extremely common in dental professionals. Research has shown that 5% of people who suffer with neck pain are eventually legally disabled by the pain. A study published in the British Dental Journal reported that nearly 30% of premature retirements of dentists surveyed were due to musculoskeletal disorders. And in In a study done at UCSF, questionnaire responses indicated that 46-71% of dental students of all four years experienced neck, shoulder, and/or back pain, with more than 70% reporting pain by their 3rd year. It is not uncommon for dentists to wake up one day and wonder how they ended up “like this.” The wear and tear of repetitive work by the dentist or hygienist, leads to a slow accumulation of dysfunction, degeneration, and pain. One day, the straw breaks the camels’ back, and Dr. Molar wakes up in pain. It’s probably not too late to help with the pain at this point, but it may be too late to undo the damage that already exists.
Pain relief must come by fixing the underlying issue.
If you have a painful cavity and your dentist says take an ibuprofen to make the pain go away, do they also suggest that that will be good enough? Will they say that you are cured? That the cavity is healed just because the pain is gone? Of course not. They have to deal with the cavity, with the decay, the dental degeneration!
Neck pain is no different when it is caused by structural or postural damage. Spinal degeneration is the oral equivalent of a cavity. If you don’t address things in a timely manner you may lose the entire tooth. The problem is, teeth are replaceable. Spinal bones and joints are not. So when dentists and hygienists have neck pain caused by the degenerative change in structure, posture, and function, maintaining mobility and function is all that can really help them function better and thereby feel better. Medications won’t fix structural problems, but Chiropractic care will usually help a lot.
Muscle soreness in Dentists and Hygienists
Neck muscle soreness, fatigue, and tension are extremely common because of their posture while working. Head forward, often tilted and rotated, leads to increased tension and inflammation in the muscles that hold the head up. For every inch forward of head tilt, the effective weight of the head doubles exponentially. Meaning, if your head weighs 12 lbs, at one inch forward, it strains the muscles and spine like a 24 lb head, and then a 48 lb head, and then a 96 lb head!
The honest “tooth” is this: chiropractors, dentists, and hygienists should all be great friends. Not only can we help each other, but we operate by the same principles. Do damage control on patients when they have an acute problem, and provide maintenance care, preventive care, to help eliminate risk of future acute disasters.
Dr. Lou has cared for dozens and dozens of dental professionals over the years. Much like the musicians Dr. Lou works with, Dentists and Hygienists spend thousands of career hours leaning over their instruments and doing finely tuned work. Dr. Lou and Dr. Aaron offer evidence based chiropractic care with efficiency and strategic planning for dental professionals.
It is a pleasure to be at the service of caregivers in our community, and we will do everything we can to accommodate our professional friends. ~Dr. Lou